One of the blessings about my journey as a writer is that I do not walk alone. I am blessed to have made numerous friends on my path to publication and beyond. I am pleased to welcome my dear friend and fellow Violet Femme, Maria K. Alexander, to my site today. Maria was kind enough to talk to me about her new release Untangle My Heart. This is a super sexy and intriguing read. Edward and Kate sizzle together. It is interesting, and a times heartbreaking, to watch them overcome previous demons in order to move on with their lives. The only thing hotter than this couple together is the food and Kate’s extended Italian family.
RAD: Hi Maria! Thank you for visiting with me today to talk about Untangle My Heart! I just finished reading your book so I have lots of questions.
MKA: Hi RoseAnn. Thanks for hosting me and picking my brain on Untangle My Heart.
RAD: Believe me the pleasure is all mine. This is my first Author Interview. I love hearing Authors talk about the spark of an idea that grew into a novel. How did you come with the idea for this story?
MKA: Untangle My Heart is actually the second book I wrote. The first book told the story of Edward’s twin brother, Charles, and Kate’s BFF, Meghan. Untangle picks up right after that book ends. It was while writing book 1 that I started having a lot of fun with Kate’s character. Her fiery attitude and smart-ass comments were enjoyable to write. I found myself building back story that I left unresolved in order to plan for Untangle.
RAD: Kate and Edward positively sizzle together. They also have a history in the form of a three-week one-night stand. Did this back story present a challenge in the writing?
MKA: Part of their back story involves a scene where Kate is caught sneaking out of Meghan and Charles’s apartment, where Edward was staying while visiting from London. Kate had met Edward in a bar and didn’t know he was related to Charles, who she’d just started working for. Edward comes walking out of the bedroom holding Kate’s red bra, wearing only his boxers. Kate is mortified to have been caught in the walk of shame by none other than her boss! It’s a pretty funny scene. One day I hope to make the revisions needed to get Meghan and Charles’s story published.
RAD: I LOVE the sound of that scene! Best wishes on the revisions. Given the glimpses of Megan and Charles in Untangle My Heart, I know that it is a story I’d love to read. When I started the Brothers of Audubon Springs series I didn’t set out to write about a big Italian family, and yet they showed up en masse. Did you always know you wanted to write about an Italian family, and how much of your family made it onto the page?
MKA: When I started writing, I hadn’t intended to write about an Italian family. I love British heros and the focus of my book was the guy. So much that I even decided to give the hero from my first book, Charles, a twin brother! But as I delved into the story from book 1, I felt this connection with Kate and the details of the Italian family evolved. My immediate family is small and I’ve always wanted a bunch of brothers and sisters. Also, by this time, I had decided I wanted a series and planned to focus on the DiFrancesco siblings, seeing as I ran out of sexy Weston brothers. There are elements of my family in the book. Things like the loud-talking, hand-gesturing, cooking enough food for twenty people. But no one character is like a particular family member. The tradition of the Feast of the Seven Fishes is something my family celebrates every Christmas Eve and has a lot of great memories from my childhood.
RAD: I love the relationship between Kate and her brother Nick who is impossibly yummy. Any plans for Nick to get his own story?
MKA: Ahhh…Nick. I really love Nick and do have a story planned for him. I haven’t figured out the entire plot yet, but built his back story of being a detective and going through a divorce. The next book in the series is about Vicky and the youngest DiSilva son who comes home after leaving the army. Nick is a returning character and you’ll see more about how his life is going to hell.
RAD: Oh NO! Poor Nick! Hopefully all this pain will make his HEA that much more satisfying. There is an element of suspense to Untangle My Heart I didn’t expect. Was this something you planned? Do you typically like romance with a hint of suspense?
MKA: Writing the suspense angle was a surprise to me, too. Once I started, I found I liked it. I had actually written a couple scenes from the villain’s POV that I deleted because it didn’t flow with the rest of the story. I enjoyed getting into the head of a creepy character. Who knows, maybe I’ll try my hand at a full suspense one of these days. The next two books in the series will also have that tinge of suspense. But the element of family and friendship is important and one I want to remain strong throughout this series. That along with sizzling chemistry between my hero and heroine.
RAD: By day you work in a corporate setting. Do you think this experience has had an impact on any facet of your writing or how you navigate the publishing industry?
MKA: Working in corporate America has helped me understand the business end of writing. Starting out, I knew getting published was a long process, one with many ups and downs. I developed a strategic plan for what I needed to do to hone my craft. I prepared myself for rejection and used feedback from contests and critique partners to improve my writing. I set annual goals for what I wanted to accomplish. I choose workshops on topics relevant to elements I needed to strengthen. I attended conferences and took advantage of pitching opportunities. I joined NJ Romance Writers, which allowed me to meet and work with a fabulous group of women who are encouraging and supportive. I started The Violet Femmes blog with four NJRW writers and have had the pleasure of watching it double in size in two years. I feel very blessed and so much richer for having met so many wonderful women I’m happy to call friends!
RAD: What is on your To Read Be Read Pile that you are dying to start or upcoming release you can’t wait to read?
MKA: My To Be Read Pile is growing by leaps and bounds, thanks to all the wonder NJRW authors with debut or new releases. Of course, I can’t wait for your next release, Secondhand Romance. Also on my list is: Knock Out by Michele Mannon, Time For Love by Emma Kaye, Compromising Willa by Diana Quincy, Country Roads by Nancy Herkness, Unchained Memories by Maria Imbalzano, Meant for Love by Marie Force, Love a Little Sideways by Shannon Stacy, Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis, and Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis. And that’s just my short list.
RAD: Your shortlist sounds a lot like mine! What is on the horizon for you?
MKA: Next, I need to finish up my own edits on Vicky’s story so I can submit it to my editor. Her story closes all the ties on the DiFrancesco-DiSilva family circle. Then in 2014, I plan to start Nick’s story.
RAD: WOW! You are one busy woman. Thank you again for stopping by today. I wish you the best of luck with your release.
To celebrate Untangle My Heart’s Kindle and print release, Maria is running a special contest through December 25th. Please to go her website at mariakalexander.com to enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced on the contest page of her website at on December 26th.
“Privacy is a hard thing to find around here, so you may want to lock the door. Especially when you’re wearing only a towel and my sister is on the prowl.”
“I’ll have to remember that,” Edward said, taking a step toward her. “I knew she was smitten, but didn’t think she would be waiting in the room after my shower. I was struggling with a tactful way of getting her out.”
“I’m sure you’re not accustomed to asking a woman to leave your room.”
He gave her an unapologetic grin. “No, usually not.”
“I guess it’s partly my fault. I told her I don’t have any claims to you. Apparently she took that to mean it was open season to pursue you.”
“Yet you stopped by. Why?”
“I wanted to thank you again for your help today. You dropped everything to come and help my family and that means a lot to me.”
He took another step toward her until he stood directly in front of her. “You mean a lot to me. I’d do anything I could to help you.”
She nodded in acknowledgement, not sure she could trust her voice to speak with him all but touching her.
“And you’re wrong about not having a claim on me.”
His hands found their way to her waist. Her heart thumped and she knew she should pull back, wanted to pull back. But his blue-gray eyes held her in a hypnotic state and she couldn’t move.
A romantic at heart, Maria K. Alexander spent hours as a young girl getting lost in and wishing to be one of the heroines in the stories she read. Books gave her the ability to go to another world where she loved meeting new characters, learning about their problems, and watching them fall in love. Maria blogs and shares her writing journey with her critique partners at: thevioletfemmes.com. When not writing, Maria loves to read, bake, downhill ski, visit the beach, and watch romantic comedies. Maria lives in New Jersey with her husband and children, and writes in her “spare” time between juggling a full-time job and her kids’ busy schedules. You can keep in touch with her at: mariakalexander.com.